Todd Galveston Drydocks (Galveston Docks)
Originally a repair yard called Gray’s Iron Works, this shipyard was purchased by Todd in 1944. During the remainder of World War II, workers at the yard built T1 tankers, but since that work dried up after the war ended, they primarily performed repair work after that. The shipyard closed in 1990, but the floating dry-docks were sold to other states and the land leased to Newpark Marine. The company changed its name to First Wave Marine, but went out of business in 2001. Gulf Copper now owns the docks, using them for offshore rig repair.
During its time as Todd Galveston Drydocks, the shipyard was a prime source of employment for many people in the Galveston area during and after World War II. However, many shipyards throughout the United States put their workers at risk for a high amount of asbestos exposure. These docks are no different. Many workers at the Galveston Docks were employed to work on ships and do repairs that require asbestos handling. Asbestos was used on ships to insulate and as fireproofing for ship parts that are exposed to high amounts of heat. One of the dangers of dealing with asbestos under these conditions is the likelihood that this harmful material may crumble. Crumbling of asbestos causes it to become dust-like and easily inhaled into the lungs.
The most serious health complication from asbestos exposure is mesothelioma cancer. When a person breathes in asbestos fibers, they easily become lodged in the linings of the heart, lungs, or abdomen. Asbestos is extremely difficult for the body to remove and with time will cause irritation in these cavities. This irritation can lead to irregular cell development and eventually to cancer. Another risk that is created when working in a shipyard is the high amount of secondary asbestos exposure to family members. This occurs when family members come in contact with the shipyard worker, his clothes, or his hair. Asbestos fibers can easily become attached to these items and can cause mesothelioma in people who may have direct contact with these things.